Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kiara 10, remastered for 2010

I had noticed some corruption in some files, so I started over and created a new Kiara image, using a freshly downloaded Slax ISO image and pristine modules from an earlier edition. As usual, I spent most of my time selecting the Desktop theme, and this one, based on vladstudio's Winter Forest wallpaper, is pretty stunning.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kiara 09 "Festive" edition


Even though I have been a bit of a Scrooge sometimes, I just couldn't see releasing a dark gray Kiara Desktop in the week before Christmas, without a festive alternative. So here's something a little more in tune with the spirit of the holiday season. The background, the splash screen, and and the boot menu are the only things about this disk that are different from the previous disk.

As always, the artwork comes from Vladstudio source of some of the best Desktop art around. Vlad has created a whole series of beautiful designs that evoke Christmas without resorting to visual cliches. We think of Christmas as Red, Gold, and Green... but for Vlad, the color of Christmas is blue. His designs are fresh and original, yet somehow they evoke traditional feelings.

I deliberately chose "Where Snowflakes Are Born", which evokes Christmas without literally referring to it. In other words, it won't be obsolete a month from now, and if you don't celebrate Christmas, it won't necessarily be inappropriate. (Of course, you can change the wallpaper. Either temporarily if you run Kiara as a live CD, or semi-permanantly if you run Kiara as a live root (mounting a hard drive partition as Home) or as a hard drive install.

Kiara has been downloaded 104 times that are confirmed, and almost certainly more (there was an earlier download site that I just abandoned.) Besides the US, Kiara has been downloaded in Germany, Spain, and India. To those who have downloaded it, and to all those whose work went into it, including Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Patrick Volkerding, Tomáš Matějíček, Vlad Gerasimov, and the much-maligned KDE Team, my thanks. To you and to all the world, best wishes for a happy holiday season and a safe, prosperous, and healthy new year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kiara 09, stripped down, a new version of Firefox, that's about it.

Hey, it's Christmas, and I am, as the kids used to say back when I was a kid, "in a bad place". It sort of a holiday tradition with me. As I move from early middle age to middle middle age, I need to lose 20 pounds lest I become diabetic, and I need to clean up my apartment lest I become homeless.

I also need to work on the Kiara documentation. I had a hard time learning Linux, and I'd like to see what I can do to make it easier for others. The Linux community is run by programmers, and that makes it awesome, but programmers seem to divide users into two camps:"programmers" and "idiots". There's a whole world of possibility between click click click clicking for hours and hours and debating python vs. perl. It's my ambition to create a place for educating users to be empowered. And Kiara is is something I can build that

To summarize, Kiara has three missions other than, you know, being a Linux distro:

1. To preserve the classic KDE 3 desktop

2. To provide a showcase for demonstrating a more advanced version of Fluxbox than the usual default, with the help of Konqueror.

3. As an opportunity to help the Linux Newbie become the Linux power user.

For the time being, as I concentrate on pulling my life out of the crapper (it's a metaphor), and work on Kiara documentation, it looks like Kiara releases are going to follow releases of Firefox, and so, a couple of days after the release of Firefox 3.5.6, here is Kiara 09. It's stripped down, it's got Firefox 3.5.6 instead of Firefox 3.5.5. Other than that, it's not much different.

I've been laying low, and I'm going to continue to lay low. Sometime, in early 2010, With the help of God and St. Ignutius, I intend to start working on overhauling this site to accomodate these three objectives. In the meantime I'll keep up with basic software updates. Kiara is a customized version of Slax, and you can find a lot of the information you need at Slax. org, and if I can help anyone who is using Kiara (about 100 downloads so far, and only 5 or 6 of them are me) I can be reached through Twitter (@GNULinuxMadman) or by email (

By the way, I might as well let you in on the joke. Kiara 09 is listed as a "Unstable release Well, I think they're all going to be unstable, unless this whole operation chages significantly. At no point am i going to say: Sure go ahead and ruyn your business on my homemade CD.

The desktop is really really gray. That's to show you how much I've been getting into the Christmas spirit. Actually, I love this art, from vladstudio.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Live Rooting output color keyed

bash-3.1$ su
niPassword: *********
bash-3.1# adduser tbone

Login name for new user: tbone

User ID ('UID') [ defaults to next available ]:

Initial group [ users ]:
Additional UNIX groups:

Users can belong to additional UNIX groups on the system.
For local users using graphical desktop login managers such
as XDM/KDM, users may need to be members of additional groups
to access the full functionality of removable media devices.

* Security implications *
Please be aware that by adding users to additional groups may
potentially give access to the removable media of other users.

If you are creating a new user for remote shell access only,
users do not need to belong to any additional groups as standard,
so you may press ENTER at the next prompt.

Press ENTER to continue without adding any additional groups
Or press the UP arrow to add/select/edit additional groups
: audio cdrom floppy plugdev video wheel

Home directory [ /home/tbone ]
- Warning: '/home/tbone' already exists !
Do you wish to change the home directory path ? (Y/n) n
Do you want to chown tbone.users /home/tbone ? (y/N) y

Shell [ /bin/bash ]

Expiry date (YYYY-MM-DD) []:

New account will be created as follows:

Login name.......: tbone
UID..............: [ Next available ]
Initial group....: users
Additional groups: audio,cdrom,floppy,plugdev,video,wheel
Home directory...: /home/tbone
Shell............: /bin/bash
Expiry date......: [ Never ]

This is it... if you want to bail out, hit Control-C. Otherwise, press
ENTER to go ahead and make the account.

Creating new account...

Changing the user information for tbone
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
Full Name []:
Room Number []:
Work Phone []:
Home Phone []:
Other []:
Changing password for tbone
Enter the new password (minimum of 5, maximum of 127 characters)
Please use a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers.
New password: *********
Re-enter new password: *********
Password changed.

Account setup complete.

Are we having Phase Two Yet?

Taking my little CD forward.

With the "plain" and "elegant" versions of the Kiara 08 live CD built and uploaded, I feel that Kiara is much better than I originally intended, and development can proceed more slowly. After the download links hae been tested, I'm going to start making additional software available for Kiara, beginning with tarball Archives for the source files. Users will be able to use these files for installing Kiara to hard drives, flash drives and virtual machines, and to create their own custom builds of Kiara or Slax. If all goes well, the tarballs will be available before tomorrow.

After that, I intend to upload upload additional software for Kiara, in the form of almost all the packages of Slackware 12.2, ported to slax modules, but that may not happen depending on how my bandwidth is holding up. At the very least, I'll link to the Slackware files and provide instructions for porting the files to Slax format (It ain't rocket science.)

The course of future upgrades of Kiara will depend to a very great extent on the future of Slax. Kiara is intended as the last line of defense in keeping KDE 3.5 alive as a viable desktop, at least for the home user aficianado, at least some of the time. If KDE4 was ever an issue, I don't think it really is anymore. I use KDE4 frquently in a Sidux as a live CD, and I often run kubuntu froom the hard drive, when I'm not using the first partition to develop Kiara. I have nothing against KDE4-- but I'm not giving up my my KDE3.5. Why? Because I don't have to.

In a worst case scenario, Kiara is being built to run as a read-only "live root", running as a live CD with a hard drive partition mounted as /home. This provides a layer of extra security while allowing for all the data retention of a normal hard drive install. The security of of live root system can be compromised, but simply rebooting the hard drive. The catch is a few minutes extra prep time after rebooting, to mount and configure the /home partition. That's what the setup tool on the root desktop are about. If nothing else changes, future upgrades will follow upgrades of major third party applications, such as firefox, opera, and thunderbird.

When the software is finally established, I intend to start in on the documentation. This is the part that I've been truly looking forward to. More on that later.

Kiara "Plain" 08: 100 MB lighter, and still pretty elegant.

NOW AVAILABLE at The Kiara Download Page

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New "Elegant" Kiara 08: Did I go too far? Don't I always?

NOW AVAILABLE at The Kiara Download Page!

After accidentally uploading an ugly-ass version of Kiara 07 with a dreadful chrome/red velvet theme that was supposed to have been rejected, I decided that I was going to release a really great looking version no matter what it took. What it took was hours and hours of compulsive casting and recasting, maybe two dozen Cds being burned and discarded, a crapload of configuring, sacrificing some nonessential applications, and adding maybe a minute or more to the boot time. The next Kiara is going to be pared down, but here is what i worked so hard on. It looks great, if I may say so. If you like eye candy, suck on this.

The background images and icons are from the incomparable Vladstudio, Background images have been added to Konqueror, and it looks great. Konsole has been configured to run transparent by default. Desktop icons have been added, and arranged attractively, in alphabetical order.

Kiara 08 features the addition of the latest version of Mozilla's thunderbird email application (requires a normal user account) and a simple "memo" feature for fluxbox that works by opening the background image in the GIMP, so you can conveniently add text memos. I keep meaning to start writing the documentation, and as soon as Kiara is satisfactorily developed, I will. In the meantime, you can leave questions here, or email me at

Kiara 08 will be the first Kiara to be released in two versions. This is the "elegant" version, beautiful and perfectly responsive, but with a loooooong boot time because of so many added customizations. On my machine it's... maybe six minutes? The scaled down "austere" version will be released shortly. It's the austere version that will be the precursor of future releases.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kiara 07 Uploaded and Released

Download test in progress. As I always do, I'm downloading the image. I will burn and test a CD, test the CD, and report the results. 2009 11 25 19:39

Looks like I uploaded the wrong image.! It works fine, but it uses art that I rejected at the last minute, as being a little but garish. I'm going to try to find the rightimage and upload it. In the meantime, you can call this the limited edition "Red Velvet" Release!2009 11 26 18:23

New features include the Thunderbird 2 email application. New features specifically for Fluxbox include "Desktop Memo", a simple system for adding text notes to the desktop background by opening it in gimp, a homemade answer to the only KDE4 plasmoid I really love. Most of the pplication already had keybindings in Fluxbox, but the new menu shows the default keybindings on the menu for easy reference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kiara 06 This is the one you want!

KDE3.5.10, a turbocharged fluxbox, some awesome setup tools... and free! As in Freedom. As in Beer. As in KDE4 is very nice, but strictly voluntary. As in MicroWHO?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tech Problems apparently resolved Yadda Yadda Yadda

I had some problems figuring out how mediafire worked, and so I put up a quick blogspot page for downloading. The problem started when I noticed, to my dismay, that more people were downloading the flawed 04 version than the much more solid 05 version. So now is the only download link I'll be giving out, and when people go there, they'll immediately see which kiara is the new kiara.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Release notes on the fly (busy day)

Added (but not necessary tested) from the last release:

nano text editor 2.09

Kiara setup tools A directory on the root desktop, planned as a mixed bag of established desktop tools (e.g. kuser) homemade gui tools, scripts and documentation. Right now, the main object is helping the user get out of that scracthy slax root desktop, and into a nice safe comfortable normal user account.

kmount As part of the Kiara setup tools, My home made gui for manually mounting the hard drive partitions to the mount points I added last week. I know; "Kmount" sounds a lot like an official KDE application. What can I say? I couldn't think of a decent name, and at the last minute, I panicked. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Whatever you call it, it's a great simple tool for manually mounting your hard drive, based on konqueror.
***EDIT: I decided that, in retrospect, I shouldn't put on such airs. This interface isn't "based on" Konqueror; it's Konqueror. It doesn't get a name.

A link to this website from the KDE desktop

A "storage media" link on the root desktop

Other changes:
Fixed the "oscar" setup script by taking out the login prompt.

Removed the "Mount" submenus from the fluxbox menu and added "edit menu" and "edit keybinding"
buttons to a prominent place in the main menu.

IMPORTANT: I removed all instances of Firefox except for the most recent, which runs from the home directory.
In KDE you can run it from the desktop Icon, or you can type "sh firefox/firefox or you can create some kind of link.
In fluxbox, I believe that the whole menu is set up to run the present version of firefox, but you'll need to remember these circumstances if you add your own link.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cautiously ecstatic about Kiara 05!

The boot screen. I can imagine you asking: Back in the saddle again? What the hell does it mean? I dunno. It just seemed right, and looking at it now, it still seems right. I was thinking of Aerosmith when I wrote it.

I've uploaded, and now I've tested the link by downloading and burning a copy from the download. It looks pretty awesome, with a big caveat being that it's running on the machine it was built on by the guy who built it for thge purposes it was built for. As we all know, Oh how your milage may vary!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kiara 04 Finally Uploaded!

Download the LIVE CD

Big News in the little World of Kiara GNU/Linux! The new release features a return to KDE3.5.10 as the default desktop, a better organized fluxbox menu, and something that I've always thought a live CD should have... mount points!

Mount Points, You Say?

Kiara's added mount points are nothing more than six empty directories located just inside of / (root) When you mount a hard drive, flash drive, or other device, the data essentially takes plugs into that space. The if I mount my usb hard drive /dev/sda1, to /files, everything in that hard drive is now /files. I like this better than the automatic mounting, which is easy enough, but generates a directory like /mnt/dev/sda1 of /media/dev/sda1. In my opinion, it's worth the extra effort of mounting manually to only have to deal with a url like /files /backup, or even /1.

It's especially helpful if you like to mess around with different distros, and if you like to write scripts that refer to the contents of your external hardrives, and use the same script in different distros. If I create the moun points and manually mount them, the same device that is automatically mounted as /dev/sda1 in a Slackware based distro like Kiara, and is /dev/sdb1 in Kubuntu, can be /files in both of them. This makes writing a script to run on the same hardware with two different distros a lot simpler.

And now I don't have to set the mount points manually every time I boot the Kiara CD. They are a permanent part of the filesystem.

Now, I created a menu addon for mounting the files by clicking for fluxbox. It works nice, but there's a catch. You have to have to be set up to use sudo without any password. Other than that, needs some work.

The special kiara mount points are:

/files /backup /1 /2 /3 /4

Here's a clickable thumbnail of a screenshot from Konqueror. The mount points are indicated with a red astirisk.

The command for mounting a device to the mount points is like this (as root, or with sudo):

mount /dev/sda1 /files

Two versions of Firefox?

Yep! Kiara 04 contains two different versions of the popular Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, and this will no doubt cause some consternation if anyone ever downloads it. Lately, the Firefox upgrades have been relentless. As of Thursday Night, when I was preparing the *.iso, Firefox 3.5.3 was the most recent version of Firefox that was available in English as a Slax module. As far as I can tell, Firefox 3.5.5 was released that same evening, since tht was when I started to get messages telling me to upgrade. It's located in the home directory, and in KDE can be accessed only by clicking on the firefox icon on the Desktop, or manually launched from the command line, for example by typing sh firefox/firefox from a terminal in the ~ (home) directory. The Kiara fluxbox menu was already edited to launch firefox from the home directory, and so fluxbox will probably use the never version for everything.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Technical Problems blah blah blah

Today's release of Kiara 04 is being held up by repeated broken attempts at uploads. I don't know what the problem is, but I'm going to keep plugging away until Kiara is hosted online. This is a pretty exciting release, including a last minute return to KDE 3.5.10 as the defualt desktop. It seems like I've done nothing today except attempt more uploads. Watch this space.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kiara Oscar 03... Now we're getting somewhere!

Download here

664.53 MB,
MD5 checksum 48c437535f73d8ac9240ee94caa7188a

Tiny URL for this post

Slow... but in a good way!"

Okay, let's start with known bugs.

It's slower than it ought to be, though in an innocuous way. When I try to watch Hulu, I get great response, unlike with KDE4.3 on Jaunty for example, which is kind of jerky on this box. But applications can take a long time to launch, and the first time I try to launch a desktop app after logging in is just deadly. I didn't time it, but I'm talking maybe 30 seconds! But the launch time improves considerably after that, and I'd rather have things take a long time to launch and perform well after I launch them. But I had to give you a heads up on that first launch. No doubt about it, that's a problem.

New Slacky login.

The best news is that, pretty much by accident, I feel that I've improved on the Slax login by making it more like Slackware. Unlike native Slax, Kiara doesn't launch as the X-Root, which of course, is taboo. It's all text now. As I mentioned before, I've always found Slax's habit of going where you're not supposed to go kind of perversely charming, but this is better. It started as a workaround.

Here's how you login:

You login as root at the text prompt as root. and then you type the slax default password "toor". Slax provides instructions for doing this.

And then, I inserted a dumdum script that secures the session, and also runs xconf to prepare you for running x. "secures the session" means that you establish a normal user account, and you change the password for root. (If you care the slightest whit about the security of your session, you don't want to be running with the publically known slax default "toor" as your root password.

So after your're logged in as root, you type:

And you'll be prompted for all the necessary information. Mostly, you'll be typing in passwords and hitting return. I use the same password for normal and root account. I think that's perfectly acceptable for a single home user. Be sure to hit the up arrow for additional groups, some of those addition groups, like audio, are important. The personal user data , including your real name, is completely optional, and not much point for a home user. I just hit enter.

This script was the first time I ever used the echo command. Experienced scripters won't be impressed, but I felt like I was hot shit.

When you've got a normal user account and a confidential root password that only you know, your live CD session is running just as an installed system would run. My hypothesis is that this is probably more secure than the default for one of the more popular debian-based live CDs like knoppix or sidux, that run with the normal user as sudo with root access.

There is a dedicated root Desktop with its own takin'care of business menu (no direct links to hulu, or any website for that matter) and a help file that begins "Welcome to root... now get out!" (unfortunately, that link doesn't work. It should be fixed by the next upload.)

Bug: I've been getting an error message after booting, something about hw something isn't a virtual link. It comes with a delay. It can crop up in the middle your login.

Welcome to Flux/Konqueror!

Writing Konqueror into fluxbox is one of those great ideas that you don't want to pat yourself on the back too much for. When it comes to programming and software, I'm not a smart person. But thanks to the power of free software, I'm using the work of smart people to create a very smart Desktop. You'll see.

Textual Healing

Editing your fluxbox configuration files has been greatly simplified with templates and keyboard shortcuts.

Type control + Shift + F1 to edit your menu
Type control + Shift + F2 to edit your keyboard shortcuts

As you can see, there's a ton of keyboard shortcuts already inserted, and templates for fast insertion of countless possibilities. Maybe it's these big templates that are slowing things up?

I'll have more to say about the way these shortcuts are organized, for maximum ease of memory retention.

Of course, with a live CD, you're going to have to take special steps to retain your configuration files, which are located in ~/.fluxbox

Brand spankin NEW! Firefox 3.5.4!

There isn't even a slax module for this yet, so it's located in the home directory and activated from the fluxbox menu. Apparently, I forgot about the keyboard shortcut. When you activate firefox from any other menu, from KDE for example: you get 3.5.3, which is installed in the usual way, via a slax module. To be sure you're getting the latest version, type sh firefox/firefox from the command line.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oscar 01 is uploading!

Download Server Misbehaving.
I's not me, honest! I'm going to take advantage of thos temporary disruption by making a few more changes. Back up soon.

Download here.

The first Kiara live CD release, Oscar-00 was a pretty straightford attempt to beef up Slax with paore any of this KDE folderol really started up, I attempted to release a CD that showed off Konquerors exceptional power as a file manager by integrating it into fluxbox. I called it kickbox at the time. I've developed second tckages ported from Slackware with KDE 3.5.10 as the default desktop. Oscar-01 is where it starts to get interesting. Maybe a year and a half ago, before any of this KDE folderol really started up, I attempted to release a CD that showed off Konquerors exceptional power as a file manager by integrating it into fluxbox. I called it kickbox at the time. I've developed second thoughts about the name, but not about the concept. Being able to deploy Konqueror, especially Konqueror 3, with complete precision from the desktop with fluxbox's simple text-based logic is some powerful desktop juju, and it's extremely easy to program, even for a non-programmer. Plus, I've been doing this for about five years now, maybe longer, and I've learned a lot of tricks. I can't wait to show you.
It's a little rough around the edges. The fluxbox files for the root desktop just wouldn't take, no matter what I tried, so the default appears instead when the root account is booted graphically. This is important. Oscar is based on Slax, and Slax is the only desktop that just goes barreling into the X-root when you boot it.

I sort of take a preverse pleasure in this aspect of Slax. Most experienced Linux Babies know that using X-windows as root, a practice I call X-rooting, is risky and frowned upon. When I was a newbie, I used the X-root, because I didn't want to learn how to handle permissions from the CLI, and I got into a huge brawl in my favorite linux forum about it. It went on for days and days, me against everybody. These days, I rarely X-Root (except when using Slax, of course, which takes me here whether I want to go or not.) I still haven't learned how to handle permissions from the command line, but I have learned a bunch of other tricks.

To some, Slax's habit of going straight to where it's never supposed to go is careless at best and foolhardy at worst, but I think those people are wrong. In my opinion, if you care enough to secure your live CD session by performing a couple of simple commands and typing in a couple of passwords, from a security standpoint you'll be better off without some of the elaborate schemes that other live CDs use to avoid the X-root.

But I'm moving away from my point, which is that what's mostly missing from this release is some special custom menus for the root user, so that when you find yourself dropped into the X-Root by Kiara, ( which it does because it's based on Slax, which only does what it inherited from Slackware), you've got some nice user-friendly resources for securing your system with a normal user account. Instead it's just a dumb default menu with an almost random list of applications, and no desktop background. And that's another thing. If the first thing the user sees is the Root User's graphical desktop, you want it to look good, right.

So, in spite of my high hopes, this is not ready for prime time... but it's a good solid step toward the Powerful Desktop Mojo that I promise is to come. The upload is almost completed now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kiara GNU/Linux is now available for download (I hope)

Download here.

Bit torrent from

The first release of Kiara GNU/Linux Unstable, nicknamed Oscar, just became available about five minutes ago. Kiara is a live CD, based on Slax, and completely committed to the preservation of the classic KDE 3 Desktop.

Oscar #00 is not terribly original, but it is pretty awesome, since it combines Slax, the greatest live CD ever, (sue me, Knoppix Fans!) with added packages from Slackware 12.2, including virtually all of the remaining packages from the classic KDE 3.5.10. Some of the added *.lzm packages (called "modules") were taken from, but whenever possible, the packages were ported from from the *.tgz packages in Slackware 12.2. The modules on Slax. org come from many contributors, from all over free software, and I hoped that by porting as much as possible from one place, I could create a distro that is comprehensive, stable, and provides disaffected Slackware fans a place where they can feel at home.

Please send comments and bug reports to, and let me know if you would like to be on a Kiara mailing list. (If you don't say that you want to be on the list, I won't out you on it.)

Have a lot of fun, and remember:
Kiara Is A Recursive Acronym.

October 2009

Packages Included

Slax Base:


Ported from Slackware 12.2

amarok-1.4.10-i486-3.lzmGlowing Steel

Modules from